Mongolia, origin of Turks discovered

First reference to the Turks in history discovered in Mongolia

Archaeologists discover in Mongolia the oldest written monument where the word “Turkish” is mentioned for the first time in history.

The first inscription inscription in history that mentions the Turks has been discovered by a group of archaeologists in Mongolia, in what the Turkish government itself has defined as a discovery that constitutes “an important milestone in Turkish history“.

The discovery has been possible during excavations that began in 2016 in the Nomgon Valley region, where Ilterish Qaghan, the founder of the Second Turkish Khanate, used to gather all the Turkish tribes. During the work, which was restarted in July of this year after being interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, a huge complex was discovered in a burial mound of about 250 square meters; it was here that some stones were found on which the symbols of these tribes were engraved, as well as many statues and figures of ancient Turkic princes.

Here, a group of scientists from a joint archaeological expedition organized by the International Turkic Academy and the Mongolian Archaeological Institute found an inscription in the Turkic and Sogdian languages, in which the experts identified words such as türk (Turkish), tanrı (god ), kutluk (kaganate) or tumen (division).

“This inscription is of enormous importance, as it traces our written history back much further in time,” said Darhan Kıdıralı, president of the Turkic International Academy. “The oldest written monument where the word ‘Turkish’ is mentioned for the first time has been discovered by Turkish scientists,” Kıdıralı stressed, assuring that it is a valuable discovery that will shed light on the history of many countries.

“A very important discovery for the history of Turkey”

For his part, Ahmet Taşağıl, professor at Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul, stressed that it is “a very important discovery for the history of Turkey and the Turkish world”, adding that this finding could be on a par with the discovery of the Orkhon inscriptions, two stone monoliths hitherto considered to be the oldest known examples of writing in the old Turkic alphabet.

Dated between the years 732 and 735, these monoliths were erected in honor of two Turkic princes of the Göktürk (or Köktürk) peoples, two brothers named Kul Tigin and Bilge Qaghan, sons of Ilterish Qaghan; these monuments recount the legendary origin of the Turks, as well as the golden age of their history, their subjugation by the Tang dynasty of imperial China, and their final liberation by the Ilterish Qaghan.

Ilterish Qaghan -whose name means “refounder” (teriş) of the nation (il)- reigned between 682 and 692 and was the founder of the Second Turkic Khanate after gathering a great army of Turkic tribes in the steppes of Mongolia that reconquered most of the territories of the former Eastern Turkic Khanate (subdued from 630 by the Chinese Tang dynasty); history – or legend – tells of him that he was never defeated in battle. The Second Khanate, which occupied the lands to the north of China, was succeeded by the Toquz Oghuz, a confederation of Turkic-speaking tribes that later became the Uyghur Khanate (744–847).